Showing posts with label Rebecca Fung. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rebecca Fung. Show all posts

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Princess Hayley’s Comet


Princess Hayley’s Comet by Rebecca Fung; illustrations by Kathy Creamer.
(Christmas Press) RRP $13.99  ISBN 978 0994 528 070

Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke

Debut author Rebecca Fung has taken a fun idea, punning on the name of the famous Halley’s comet, and produced an enjoyable and original story for young readers.

Princess Hayley’s Comet is a slim little book with an engaging cover and the promise of an active storyline. The cover illustration by Kathy Creamer is attractive in bold primary colours and the dynamic swirling path of the golden comet looks appropriately regal. The expressions on the faces of the king and the princess give a hint of the plot.

The first page plunges straight in to the crux of the story: “Dearest Hayley,” asked the King. “What would you like for your birthday?”

A princess with everything she could ever wish for, the soon-to-be-ten-year-old Princess Hayley asks for a comet.

Although set in a traditional, generic fairy-tale castle, this story does introduce elements of science fiction as the narrative unfolds. Some basic information about real comets is embedded at the beginning of the story. The princess obtains information about comets from her book Simple Astronomy. She wonders about the personality of a comet:

Hayley was sure the comet was independent, exciting and adventurous, and the more she felt that, the more she adored it.”

The comet symbolises Princess Hayley’s own personality, and her desire for adventure and exploration.

The idea of capturing and riding a comet (without being burned to ashes) is unrealistic. However, Fung manages to pull this absurd situation off, the reader suspending disbelief and going along with the story. Afterall, the fairy-tale genre does not set up an expectation of realism.

In eleven chapters liberally sprinkled with black and white drawings, the book is accessible, dynamic and inviting to primary school children, and offers both visual and textual surprises on each page. The size of the book is appropriate for child hands and the text is well-spaced and not at all daunting.

Princesses are standard fare in children’s literature. How does Hayley compare with the stereotype? She has a benevolent father, the king, ready to grant her every wish. (The Queen is not mentioned.) Princess Hayley has a collection of exotic birthday presents including polar bears, golden treehouses and diamond tiaras. She has servants to assist her in everyday life at the palace. But unlike many princesses, she isn’t isolated or lonely.

With two “equal best” friends, Ned and Cara, Princess Hayley is a well socialised and resourceful character. When the King’s Advisors say that a birthday comet is impossible, she actively devises strategies to catch her own comet.

Kathy Creamer’s illustrations reveal a princess who wears plaits with her crown, and boots with her regal robes, that are a sensible calf-length for active movement.

If there is a moral to this enjoyable tale, it is that girls are capable, interested in science and don’t need the help of male authority figures to achieve their goals.
A great addition to every little princess’s book collection.